Apple has said education is in its DNA, and a report released yesterday confirms the positive impacts of exploiting technology within education.

The study was distributed by the UK Department of Education yesterday. It shows that using technology in schools encourages learning and improves pupil confidence and behaviour.

"A wide range of motivational impacts of ICT [Information and Communications Technology] upon pupils were reported in the study. All secondary teachers interviewed indicated that they felt that ICT had a positive impact upon pupils' interest in and attitudes towards school work", the report says.

Observed impacts of technology in the classroom include boosting pupils' pride in their work and better behaviour in class. Confidence also benefits, as using technology enables children to do things they had not been able to do before, and share the results and ideas.

The research was conducted across 15 schools and two Pupil Referral Units during the spring and summer terms of 2003.

The study (The Motivational Effect of ICT on Pupils) was carried out by Lancaster University. It shows technology – called ICT in the UK education sector – motivates both girls and boys, but "probably" has most effect on young males, and helps them stay more focused.

The report states: "The findings suggested that ICT was helping to draw pupils into more positive modes of motivation. ICT appeared to be offering a means for a range of pupils to envisage success. It enabled pupils to see possible end-points for their work, and to recognize that they could work towards these in order to complete work."

The researchers do warn that to be effective, technology in the classroom needs to be delivered in a relevant way, and call for the "identification and dissemination" of effective practice in that use.

"People with disabilities can benefit enormously from communications access through ICT, and many find it essential," the report adds. It also observes that "those disaffected with traditional forms of learning can benefit from using ICT."

Positive results

Concluding the report, the researchers list a selection of positive results from harnessing technology in education: attendance improves – with a potential positive effect on truancy, youth crime and anti-social behavior, as children are engaged constructively.

"Examples of cases where pupils with limited levels of literacy have accessed ICT resources, particularly Internet based and digital content resources, and where these have led to changes in attendance, truancy, crime, and anti-social behaviour should be investigated further," they say.

The 88-page report also calls for more initiatives to extend out-of-hours work, and recommends trans-agency partnerships involving ICT beyond the classroom.

A list of positive impacts identified by head teachers involved in the study follows:

ICT can motivate pupils and staff within a school.

ICT use needs to have appropriate teaching methods linked and used with it.

ICT is seen to improve motivation, makes classroom management easier, makes subject topics visually attractive, but long term impacts on attainment are not always apparent.

ICT enables a multi-sensory approach to both teaching and learning, and many children need visual, auditory and kinaesthetic stimulation in order to enable learning.

ICT supports independence of pupil working and pupils feel more in control of their learning when it is used appropriately.

ICT can be used to extend the teaching day (by enabling pupils to work on tasks outside classrooms and in ways that they could not do without using ICT), and supporting communications between teachers and pupils is motivating for both teachers and pupils.